The Sirens of ACL / By Rachel Merriman
It’s often said music is a universal language, and you certainly don’t need to know anything about jazz to appreciate Esperanza Spalding. The multilingual Spalding masterfully blends Spanish and Portuguese influences for a new sound The New Yorker calls “jazz for the iPod age.” A true performer, Spalding exudes confidence. The singer, composer and bassist has been pursuing music from a young age, entering the Portland State University music program when she was just 16. Spalding had an eventful year in 2011, reigning victorious over tween heartthrob Justin Bieber at the Grammy Awards to win Best New Artist. She also won Jazz Artist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards. Visit austinwomanmagazine.com/esperanza-spalding to read an interview with Spalding, and be sure to catch her at the festival Oct. 12.
Well-known for collaborating with Australian singer Gotye on the summer hit Somebody That I Used to Know, and the success of her 2011 album, Vows, Kimbra is sure to draw a crowd at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival. Paste Magazine calls the eclectic artist “blessed with both a genre-hopping musical sensibility and a hair-raising voice that swoons and soars straight to your deepest pleasure zones.” Indeed, her infectious single Settle Down will have you dancing and clapping along in no time (especially if you’ve had a few Lone Stars). End the festival on a high note and fight your way to the front of the crowd to see Kimbra Oct. 14.
Like her music, Florence Welch is intense. On how her personality shapes her songwriting, she says, “I’m either really sad or really happy, I’m tired or completely manic. That’s when I’m at my most creative, but it’s also dangerous for me. I feel I could write some good songs or break some hearts. Or tables. Or glasses.” Her intensity carries over to her dynamic performances, which are backed by The Machine, a seven-piece band that gets its name from original band member Isabella “Machine” Summers (keyboard and backing vocals). Dark and beautiful in the best way possible, Florence + The Machine will pull you down and bring you up again. The band plays ACL Music Fest Oct. 12.
The slight twang in their voices will fool you in to thinking Klara and Johanna Söderberg hail from right here in the South, but this sister duo with a passion for American roots music grew up in a suburb outside of Stockholm. In true indie-folk style, they recorded their first album, The Big Black and The Blue, in their bedroom. The sisters refined their sound in the studio for their second album, The Lion’s Roar, on which they collaborated with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes for the track King of the World. We’re fairly sure the Söderberg sisters are angels in disguise, as their dreamy vocals on The Lion’s Roar are perfect in every way, with a haunting quality that sends shivers down your spine. See them at ACL Oct. 12.